Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Marginalizing Writers

I almost never do this, but recently I *quit* a book some 80(?) pages into it - usually I stick it out to the bitter blissful end.

I was bored to death by Anne Lamont's critically-acclaimed - Bird By Bird: Some Instructions On Writing And Life.

Sure there was some practical information in this one - on how to overcome procrastination, blocks, etc. and finally write that novel one might have been threatening to publish, for years.

BUT, I found most of her spiel to be unhelpful din, the ramblings of a stereotypical, angry, destitute *writer*. I just have no respect for these clowns that think they can simply write for a living.

HELLO, you have to have some practical knowledge to impart if you ever want to get paid - appreciably anyway. The idea that the masses will pay-up for beautiful prose is not only delusional, ignorant, and vain....it's anti-empirical. The number of people, throughout history, who've managed to make a living writing about *lazy Sunday afternoons* and such is a microscopic fraction of the number of Morons who set out explicitly to do so. Sure, I'd love to play golf for a living BUT....I'm forever restrained (and redirected) by realism.

And it seemed like that was the entire focus of the book - how to motivate lazy/opinionated buffoons, i.e. aspiring New York Times writers.

Sure some people have indeed made living writing fiction (e.g. Danielle Steele, Greg Mankiw,...) but for the most part commercial writing has been held hostage by *utility*.

And now that the gatekeepers have been obliterated by ebooks and the web....before long there'll be a zillion more aspiring, middling, writers out peddling their paragraphs. If you put them all in a line they would look not unlike those hopeless American Idol auditioners!


Anonymous said...

with new tech and web proliferation, i wondered if writing will become like news papers - And videos replacing everything.

Like for eg: If there is a book on a topic and also video on the topic...which one will get more readers? The written book or visual video.

Is writing going to become marginalized?

But i do believe Writing is one of the important/critical skills...it makes u think like no other format/actions. It might impart some critical reasoning/thinking skills.

CaptiousNut said...


I agree that writing is an important skill and mental exercise. Most Morons will never put their thoughts or opinions on paper - no less on the web. At root they are probably scared to see their own beliefs staring back at them!

Nobody really reads. People skim and, like you say, watch videos.

When sent videos to watch I shudder - as I do when I have to check my voicemail!

I prefer reading a transcript to watching a video any day of the week, on almost anything that doesn't feature *women with qualities important to the superficial male*.

But I feel like I'm the only one.

I have to laugh at all the readers (kindle, iPad, etc.) out there. I mean, no one reads! Every time some iMoron sits next to me with an iPad they invariably whip out a Netflix movie!!!

Anne Galivan said...

Like you, I far prefer reading to video. I will rarely watch a video that comes in my inbox, though occasionally I will come across something very funny which makes it worth it. Likewise with blogs that have videos, I almost never will take the time to watch.

I wonder if there aren't more of us than some might think. I suspect it's so, but the "buzz" is all about "vlogs" and such that I think it makes them seem more popular than they are.

Also like you, I will rarely stop reading a book even if I am hating it. I have done it (put a book down without finishing it) a handful of times but I almost always feel like I have failed in some way. It's a personality thing.

A couple of months ago I actually was reading a novel (a crime thriller, pretty much the only kind of novel I read anymore) and it was ticking me off so I told my daughter (age 26) to read it and tell me if it was worth finishing! She read it and said I would like how it ended, so I am going to read it once my college class lets out. In any case, a good strategy for me if I ever find myself in that situation again!